Forget about “one-dose summer, two-dose fall.” It was already out of date when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau coined the phrase less than a month ago, and with Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand’s announcement on Wednesday of pending deliveries of millions of Moderna doses, it’s now ancient history.
This country is on the verge of having enough juice to give a first and second shot to every Canadian who wants it by early August, or even late July.
Canada’s vaccination campaign leads the G7, the G20 and the OECD in the share of population with a first dose. That remarkable performance is because of this country’s early focus on first shots, and the eagerness with which Canadians have lined up to get them. The United States has a far larger vaccine supply – enough to have double-dosed everyone weeks ago – yet suffers from a debilitating shortage of willing arms.
For example, President Joe Biden’s goal was to get a first shot into 70 per cent of American adults by July 4. That goal is looking unattainable in the U.S., whereas Canada has already surpassed it.
In Quebec, 91 per cent of seniors have at least one shot. In Toronto, residents aged 18 to 24 only recently became eligible, yet 79 per cent of them have been jabbed. Across the country, nearly 72 per cent of eligible Canadians have had at least one shot.
Canada is now starting its next race, for second shots. The speed of the journey depends above all on the supply of vaccines. The more this country gets, and the faster we get them, the sooner we cross the finish line. To give two shots to 90 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12 – an ambitious but attainable goal – Canada needs roughly 60 million doses. So far, 30 million have been received. And to add to the scheduled supplies of AstraZeneca and Pfizer this month, Ms. Anand said Wednesday that Moderna – whose deliveries have been repeatedly delayed and diminished – will send Canada seven million doses in June.
By our count, that means Canada is scheduled to receive approximately 46 million doses by the end of this month. Ms. Anand says that will climb to 55 million in July.
And she stressed that 55 million was the “minimum number of doses that we anticipate.” More shipments from Moderna are expected in July, but numbers and dates are unconfirmed, and so not yet on the public schedule. The same goes for any additional AstraZeneca doses.
What it all adds up to is this: Over the next seven weeks, Canada is going to approach and then cross the threshold of 60 million shots received. This country is getting the tools to finish the job.
Canadians have shown that most of us are willing to wait in lines and jump through hoops to get inoculated. Even as vaccine supply ramped up in May and June, demand outpaced it.
How to keep that national enthusiasm going, while spreading it to the more than one-quarter of eligible Canadians who still have not stepped forward for a first shot?
That means building on the mass vaccination sites, community clinics, pop-ups, workplace clinics, mobile vaccinators and ambassadors of many faiths and languages already at work across the country.
They’re familiar to Canadians with a first dose under their belts, and in addition to delivering second shots, they offer ever more opportunities to reach stragglers who have yet to get a first shot. Evidence from across Canada suggests that, the more opportunities there are to get vaccinated, the more people will get vaccinated. And reaching the still-unvaccinated should include the kind of “ground game” that campaigning politicians are familiar with.
Right now, from coast to coast, census workers are knocking on the doors of those who never got around to filling out their census form. Why not do likewise for people who haven’t had a first shot? Some will be resentful; many more will be grateful for the opportunity.
And start offering benefits to the fully vaccinated. The most appropriate, which Ottawa is preparing to bring in, is the ability for the double-dosed to cross the border without quarantine. It accords with the science – and it will encourage Canadians who want to travel to not delay in getting their shots.
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